The first Improv comedy club had virtually nothing to do with comedy. Broadway producer Budd Friedman founded the now legendary franchise in 1963 as an intimate spot for performers to eat, drink coffee, and sing along to piano ditties after their shows. Soon after, the club?s first comedian, Dave Astor, performed on a whim to try out new material. The stand-up set was a hit and led to the venue?s eventual transformation into a full-blown comedy club. New York?s hottest comedians would do nearly anything to be featured on the Improv stage; for instance, it's rumored that Lily Tomlin hijacked a parked limousine in order to make a stunning entrance when first meeting Budd.
A recent addition to the respected chain of Improv comedy clubs?where comedic heavyweights such as Andy Kaufman, Jay Leno, and Jerry Seinfeld first started working the stand-up circuit?Denver Improv lives up to the reputation set by its preceding locations by hosting a full calendar of well-known comics and promising up-and-comers. Audience members can fuel laughter with pub grub such as potato skins and pulled pork sandwiches, all while sipping a cocktail to avoid eye contact with the giant rubber chicken sitting at the next table.
Voodoo Comedy Playhouse’s resident yuksters split sides four days a week, oscillating between stand-up acts, improv shows, and celebrity impersonation revues. On Saturday nights, The Fine Gentlemen’s Club opens its stately gates for a retinue of solo joke-tellers, lobbing laugh-bombs at audiences still crooning choruses from Hit and Run’s Friday night musical improv. Chuckling companions may also rain roses on Makeshift Shakespeare’s all-male cadre of bard-minded barnstormers, who deftly fuse the rich, florid prose of Shakespeare with a soupçon of gut-busting improv. Alternatively, guests can opt for a late-night lark at the Divalicious Cabaret, which raucously parades the spitting images of such fetching celebrities as Cher, Beyoncé, and Snuffaluffagus. Suds and spirits from a full-service bar irrigate arid laugh lairs as performers tread the boards beneath Voodoo’s pristine, ultramodern theater set-up.
From basement beginnings to their own bona fide theatre space, the Bovine Metropolis Theater has nourished the improv community of Denver for over a decade. Co-owner and artistic director Eric Farone, who cut his comedic chops at famed Chicago institutions such as Second City and iO, and his cohort Denise Maes, have trained over 700 actors in the art of improvisation. Now with seven different shows and up to eight performances per week, the Bovine Metropolis Theater ensures that Denver never has a drought of quick-witted, off-the-cuff talent.
Originally opened in 1927, the Genesee Theatre slowly deteriorated over the course of the century until its closing in 1989. But starting in 2001, a $23 million cash infusion from the city allowed 120 volunteers to restore the theater to its Gilded Age splendor. Its elegant trappings include authentic wall fabrics, an exact replica of the original marquee, and a 2,200-pound chandelier that gently spotlights the grand lobby and every audience member passing underneath to show how everyone is a star if you really think about it.
In February, you can keep up with a trio of slippery-tongued soccer moms as a random Sunday day at the field evolves into an unexpectedly animated adventure. Laugh-inducing ladies Gina Wencel, Megan Van De Hey, and Emily Paton Davies thrill audiences with their suburban housewife hijinks, including gym-teacher seduction, impromptu goal kicking, and nonstop gossiping. Catch the show Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. through the month of February. In March, welcome Denver native Nick Ross back to the stage with his nationally acclaimed show Highly Evolved Human. Attempting to resolve the mental fallout of his diagnosis and experience with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Ross's performance is an inspiring and acclaimed comedic romp through the human spirit.
Welcome to Groupon Denver! For our inaugural deal, $7 gets you a ticket to the Impulse Theater, located at 1634 18th St.—that's 61% off a retail value of $18 worth of laughs. You're probably thinking, "That sounds great, but I've never bought a car or a computer without first reading the Wikipedia definitions for car and computer—I'm not about to buy a Groupon either without a briefing." Well neither would we, and since this is everyone's first Groupon, allow us to briefly explain how it works.